Trusting someone with the well-being of your home is a big decision. Homeowners are a proud bunch, and aside from being the single greatest investment most people will make in their lifetime – the underlying concept of home aids in most people treating their dwellings like their children; not just anyone is going to be permitted to come in and have a go at building out a dream kitchen renovation. Renovations are carefully planned, and are coveted as milestone goals being stroked off the home improvement to-do list.
Planning out your design changes is obviously important, but the contractor who executes the work is arguably the most important choice you’ll make when beginning your kitchen project. This means research. This means asking questions. And this means finding a group or individual who embodies your values and is going to respect your home like it’s their own. Here are the most important things to consider when hiring a contractor.
No company should have a problem providing you with references to previous work or client success stories via a portfolio. Regardless of how smart your contractor seems, you can never really tell how effective he/she will be until you take a look at what they have previously accomplished. References will be able to inform you not only of the design talent of your prospect contractor, but also speak to customer service, timeliness and communication skills.
One of the most important references to consider is accreditation, in whatever form that may come. NARI and the BBB are two reputable organizations that provide watchdog metrics that you can trust.
Insurance is where the rubber really meets the road when it comes to contract work. Any company can say that it guarantees its work, but insurance is the fulfillment of this promise. If something goes wrong, you need to make sure that your contractor has the appropriate insurance to have it fixed. Otherwise, you may be stuck with the bill for an accident that occurred through no fault of your own.
Contractors may also be required to hold a certain amount of insurance in order to conduct business. Check the laws in your area to ensure that your contractors are in compliance. Should a mistake occur with an unqualified contractor, you may find yourself chasing a disappearing entity with very little leverage to right the wrong.
How much experience does your prospect contractor have in the market? Furthermore, how much experience does your contractor have for the specific type of work that you want done? Not all home renovations are equal – just because someone knows how to deal with flooring, countertops, and tile doesn’t mean they understand plumbing, electrical, and architecture.
There is certainly something to be said for pure talent and design innovation. Ideally, you are hiring a contractor with all of these characteristics. However, if you are contracting for a novelty project or a special condition within your kitchen, you may be able to trade a bit of experience for a niche specialty.
No legitimate company should have a problem providing examples of work they’re proud of, and they should have a portfolio at the ready, eager to present it to you. The portfolio shows you more than proof of work. It also represents how well a contracting business is organized.
Portfolios are industry standard, meaning that any contractor without one is not performing their due diligence. Hire this contractor at your own risk. They may be quite talented, but do not be surprised if you have to deal with administrative and organizational problems throughout the job.
Word Of Mouth
One of the best ways to begin shortening a list of prospects is to simply ask around. Word of mouth in the modern economy may not mean getting it from your physical neighbours. You may hear word of mouth about a contractor from a review site or a conversation on social media. As long as you can verify the source, digital word of mouth is just as good as traditional forms of word of mouth advertising.
Getting a straight opinion from a neutral source tells you more about a contractor than you could ever learn from an ad or a sales pitch. Make sure that you ask every question you need to in order to be confident in your selection.
Communication between the client and the contractor is an essential component of a successful collaboration and an important part of any renovation process. No matter how talented and experienced a contractor may be, things may go wrong. When this happens, changes in the plan should be communicated to the client in a timely fashion.
Ask your prospect about a time during a job that went wrong, and how they dealt with it. A contractor that tells you nothing ever goes wrong is straight up lying to you. Houses are constructs of human intervention, and are not impermeable to time. All jobs will inevitably have some hiccup or roadblock, and if your contractor feels confident in telling you about the hurdles they’ve had to jump through, you’re potentially dealing with an honest and upfront firm.
The cost of a project should not be the first criteria on your list, but it is important. There is nothing wrong with cost comparisons if two or more contractors are giving you a wide range of pricing for similar work. Keep in mind there is more than one way to fix a problem in some cases. Some contractors may have a more creative, cost effective way to get the job done.
Always remember the old saying: you get what you pay for. Contracting is a laborious, skilled trade – and hiring the cheapest contractors usually means getting the cheapest work quality. Experience, quality, and good customer service come with a fair price-tag that should be respected.
Overall, look for an optimal balance of viable experience, good communication, quality workmanship, and a dedication to customer service. You should not expect to get all of this for the cheapest price. Your home is a long term investment, and finding the right contractor pays for itself in many ways – improved quality of life, health, and the overall value of the home – further, this is your dream renovation. Go with your gut and hire the contractor you feel is best suited to carry out your vision.
Consider the tips above when searching for your next contractor. Keep them in mind as you consider the sales pitches, schedules, and personalities that you will run into. The bottom line is that your home is your responsibility. Who you let in reflects on you at the end of the day.